This year I’ve joined a small group of people in our diocese working with the DDO and Vocations team to help promote young vocations across the diocese. Over the next 4 days I’ve got a series of guest posts from some younger people (ie: under 30) who share their thoughts and experiences of vocation in the Church of England for the younger generation. First up Ben Williams…
If I had gone to my Bishops Advisor Panel (BAP) two years ago I would NOT have been recommended for training.
At the time I felt ready to go and confused as to the complexity of the Church of England discernment process. I met my Vicar three times, booked my first meeting with the DDO a month in advance and when I did eventually meet them there was no ‘snapping me up’. Why not? I was an enthusiastic 25 year old Christian. Surely they’d be leaping with joy?
That insight into my thinking is enough to show you why I needed the discernment process! I was young, unaware and (a little) ignorant. Despite this, I was welcomed into the discernment phase and given time to explain my sense of vocation. Through careful listening the DDO unravelled my well rehearsed speeches, asked pointed questions and made observations. I went away feeling heard and with a list of tasks to complete.
Over the next few months I met Deacons and Priests from across my diocese. I asked them to talk me through their sense of calling and to explain their insights into the unique quality of priestly ministry. I also visited many different services to increase my awareness of the diverse CofE. A couple of months after that, I undertook a six week placement in an urban benefice which was the complete opposite to my home church and thrust me into an environment where I needed to find common ground with those who had differing ideas.
Only months later, in the week leading up to my BAP, did I fully see the point of my two year process. I was looking through my transcribed conversations and the annotations I made on the 9 criteria for my initial meetings and I was amazed at how much my answers had genuinely changed because of my experiences.
So my advice to you is: Trust the process. Discernment is slow and thorough for a reason.
As a young person who grew up in a fast paced culture this was the the hardest thing to overcome but a short book that encouraged me to slow down was ‘Quiet: Hearing God Amidst The Noise’ by AJ Sherrill. It helped me savour the moment and spiritually equip me for the road ahead. I hope you also find a way to slow down, enjoy this time and prayerfully discern your calling.
Ben Williams (@bengwilliams) is currently a Youth Ministry Coordinator in a church in Leicestershire and has recently been recommended for ordination training. He is going to be starting full time context based training through St Mellitus, London in September 2018. He is married to Emily, is a proud doggy dad to Ziggy the Cockapoo and the family vlog their life on Youtube